Sometimes it happens that you underestimate an album, either due to prejudices or a really distracted first spin. The result of this is that you learn to appreciate it even more when you fully immerse yourself in it. This is what happened when I first came across Nicoletta Noè’s début album Il folle volo (The crazy flight). Luckily enough I was wrong about first impressions.
I naïvely thought that, on the surface, it was an unremarkable radio-friendly singer/songwriter-pop. Actually, the intimate atmosphere is far from unremarkable. The evocative tunes swing between melodic and knife-edge tension, and from the beginning the listener is almost dropped into a shamanic atmosphere, also thanks to Max Messina on drums (La verità stretta). Nicoletta embodies the instrumental power of her fellow-countrywoman Carmen Consoli (famous singer-songwriter, famous for her rocker attitude, often compared to a Janis Joplin of the ‘90s). At the same time her attention to lyrics and themes, such as the one of flight/freedom/submission also recalls an Italian Patti Smith or PJ Harvey, in this attachment to some of the traditional cantautorato italiano (famous songwriters such as De Andrè, Battiato) and yet there is also a more experimental touch. The full length goes from the dusty blues of Solitude (“In my solitude you come”) and the psychedelic Insonnia, or the dark-noisy Nico of Velvet Undeground’s early career, especially when covering themes such as a tricky love story (Oh padrone). The delicate touch of Non mi ricordi più, Risparmio emotivo and 17 anni is more baroque, where folk and electric blend in a melancholic aura. This poignant melancholy is amplified by Andrea Costa’s violin in the This Mortal Coil-y Il folle volo, in which the reverbs and echoes almost get us back to Laura Palmer’s death in the movie Twin Peaks.
The real unremarkable moments happen to be the ones in which the power of electric riffs and melancholic thrill are weakened by an intimate setting (Non è tardi, Dovecomequando), being somehow too far from the dominant mood of the album. However, this minor flaw is easily overcome by the inner power of the concept on the whole, in that perennial need of men to broaden their horizon until the inescapable fall.